He's lived his whole life in the spotlight. That's what comes with being the son of an icon.
Life in the public eye had it's ups and downs and he knows all about that. Bongani Fassie (36), the son of late singer Brenda Fassie, can't recall having a normal childhood where he played in the streets like other children without being recognised as the child of a superstar.
A talented musician and producer in his own right, Bongani has battled with fame and always having the spotlight shine on his life.
From 5 June 2021 Bongani will open up about his life in the reality show Finding Bongani set to air on Moja Love, DSTV channel 157.
Drug and alcohol abuse, suicide attempts, family disputes, his mother’s legacy, inheritance, marriage, love, toxic friendships are some of the issues he will address in the first season.
“A lot of people claim to know me, but they don’t. They have always made speculations about my life and it's high time I show people who I truly am. One season may not be enough to tell my story, but it’s a start.”
Bongani says he has been quiet for too long and did not address issues when they arose in the media.
“Issues about my mom’s death, people speculating that she overdosed on drugs and how I kept my mom’s legacy intact, but my inheritance was stolen from me and how I was belittled by people I was working with very closely; wolves who came in sheep’s clothing. All that is on the table. I have been quiet for too long and have never been given a platform to honestly and candidly share my life and what I have been through,” Bongani says.
When he thinks about media reports on the passing of his mom in 2004, he gets a lump in his throat. In the reality show, Bongani sets the record straight about rumours surrounding his mother’s death.
“People reported that my mother died from a drug overdose, which is complete misinformation. I have my mother’s death certificate. No one saw the postmortem but they concluded that it was a drug overdose. And that has traumatised me for years,” he says.
“Brenda died after she went into cardiac arrest, and in the death certificate it clearly states that cause of death is unknown and it is under investigation."
Bongani says the passing of his mom took a toll on his mental health.
“It has been the hardest thing to deal with. It led me to go down a very dark road. I almost died three times from attempting to take my own life,” he says. For many years he did not have a voice to confront his issues and bottled them all in.
“Brenda was a very outspoken person. I am the opposite of that. For years I have been internalising everything and not vocal about my pain. I suffered in silence and fell into a dark depression.”
But he is ready to confront his mistakes and address all aspects of his life from birth.
“I will not shy away about my use of drugs and alcohol abuse,” Bongani says.
“I was in rehab, not at an incarceration facility, but rehab where you are given 72 hours to go and deal with what you need to do and come back and that is what I did.”
Right now, he is on step four of his 12 step program to be completely clean from drugs.
“I am what you call a recovering addict. I was also diagnosed with depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that was triggered by many traumatic events in my life which I talk about on the show,” Bongani says.
“Everyone knows the award-winning producer. Nobody knows what I was going through, in addition to what Brenda went through. It will be a full expose and extravaganza,” Bongani says.
“I couldn’t have regained my strength and willingness to fight and win without God,” he says.
Now married with three children, Bongani is more grounded and family-oriented.
“My family, wife, and children have given me a reason to try again,” he says.
“After losing Ma B, my friends ditched me and threw me away, and that heavily impacted my life. I had nowhere to go, I was looking for sympathy from them. And I learned it was only my family; aunt, aunt, and uncles who cared," Bongani says.
"I am not going to mention any names, but everyone knows who they are. They shut me out, mocked me, not knowing that God had a plan. The rise of Bongani was not based on my rap career with Jozi or fame. Finding the Lord and being one with the word has really put me in a beautiful space. My hardships have shown me the importance of family."